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Wisconsin boating regulation question (Pontoon specific)

6/15/20 @ 4:32 PM
ORIGNAL POST
Derelict2
User since 8/12/05

We were recently scolded by a passerby for having children with life jackets on the front deck of a pontoon boat while moving forward at idle speed. When I say on the front deck, I mean beyond the front door of the pontoon rails. On our specific boat we have about four feet of of deck beyond the front rails and door. This person said everyone "must be inside the cage" when underway.

This person insisted we were irresponsible idiots and that what we were doing was breaking the law.

I can find nothing in the Wisconsin handbook to boat regulations that would seem to cover this egregious wrong doing on our part. If someone could point me to the written regulation I will stand down.

Two supervised children in life jackets, within arms reach of their parents, on a pontoon boat that was going 1.8 mph and the disgust on this guys face could not have been worse. 


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6/29/20 @ 1:13 AM
Prop
Prop
User since 4/9/03

While you may have a 30' Pontoon. There can't possibly be different regulations based on boat footage. We have a pontoon 6' shorter but only takes one slight moment of not paying attention to make that decision a huge mistake

6/28/20 @ 9:37 PM
Derelict2
User since 8/12/05

Great discussion occurring. Thanks again for all the feedback. 

Agree with most of the opinions...bottom line this is just conjecture and hogwash, The investigating authority person (Warden, Sheriff etc) will have the ultimate say and we all know that's a losing battle.

I think another point that might have been lost with my initial post is, it's one thing to get cited and scolded by someone who actually has the legislative right to do so such as a Warden or Sheriff...but I can't stand getting yelled at by Jerks who think they can enforce the law. There are 500 other ways the guy in my initial post could have let us know he thought we were in the wrong, but instead, he chose to be dick.

Next time anyone see's someone casually - and unknowingly - violating a boating ordinance, trust there are nice, cordial and professional ways to inform them of it without being a dirtbag.

6/28/20 @ 2:48 PM
Plmlk
Brent Hess
MEMBER since 12/18/07

I have 19 foot open bow (pic attached for reference.)

My wife was riding in the bow, with her back on the rest, and legs facing the front of the boat. We were in a slow no wake area on the Wolf River going idle speed, and one of my wife’s feet were slightly outside of the the confines of the boat (near the boat license number, see arrow on pic) while her full body and legs were within the boat, and we got pulled over. 

He let us off with a warning, but I’ve been very careful ever since.

The warning was decent of him, but it tied us up for 30 minutes between the safety check and ensuring that we didn’t have any warrants out lol 

The Woodlands Resort
(262) 661-3968
6/24/20 @ 7:37 AM
teamstratos219
teamstratos219
User since 9/4/06

There are a thousand things that kids do every day that can cause them injury.  But, you can't just keep em in a bubble.  If I was driving a pontoon in the manner described by the poster, and my kids asked me "hey dad, can we ride up there while we're going slow", I'm sure my answer would have been "yeah, just be careful" or something similar.  So, while the cost benefit analysis wouldn't show any benefit for me, it would make the kids happy, so with the minimal risk, I'm sure I would have allowed it.  

6/23/20 @ 7:39 PM
Master_Piker
Master_Piker
User since 12/7/05

Very well said by the_dude! Although it may not 'technically' be completely 'illegal' to sit up there...we are talking about kids...everything is hunky dory one second, then one touches the other, the other pushes back and one kid goes overboard, adults are talking and laughing in the back of the boat and before you know it the unthinkable happens. Not saying this would be the case with your specific family, but I had a stone sober 30 year old friend fall out of my deep-v fishing boat during a tournament while swatting at a horse fly buzzing around his head. "Stuff happens"...and on a 30' pontoon, I personally see no reason to take that risk when there should, in theory, be more than enough seating inside the guardrails for everyone, even the kids. I think this is more of a safety/ethics issue than a legal issue. 

6/22/20 @ 2:13 PM
the_dude
the_dude
User since 1/10/03

I don't care what others do for the most part, so long as it isn't impacting my safety.  But I do just have one alternative way of looking at it:  what is the benefit of having your kids sit up there?  A 30' pontoon likely has quite a bit of seating inside "the cage."  So, in my mind, while the risk is minimal, there is still risk to having them ride up there.  So the cost/benefit analysis I run is there is a potential cost and I'm not seeing any benefit...

6/22/20 @ 9:14 AM
teamstratos219
teamstratos219
User since 9/4/06

I don't disagree with the rule at all.  I agree with it 100%.  It should be illegal to ride there in an unsafe manner, and it should not be illegal to ride there in a safe manner.

6/22/20 @ 8:53 AM
lakeshiner
lakeshiner
User since 7/20/09

I don't disagree with the reasoning of the law, but it does leave it up to the interpretation of a warden.  So if he were to disagree with you, you then get to fight it.  Any time people can throw 'kids' and 'safety' in your face, you will find an uphill battle. 

We all do this, we disagree with a law and try to find every reason why its wrong.  None of that actually changes it though, just makes us feel better that we justified our actions.  

6/20/20 @ 12:09 PM
Derelict2
User since 8/12/05
Teamstratos, your reply is wrought with logic and reason. I love it and agree.

6/19/20 @ 8:14 AM
teamstratos219
teamstratos219
User since 9/4/06

I'm just reading the rule as it's written.  If it was illegal to ride there under any circumstance while underway, the phrase "in an unsafe manner" would not be needed in the rule.  The fact that it is there means there is a safe manner in which to sit there while underway that is not illegal.

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